“What did you expect?” is an annoying defense that I would not typically put forward, but where it concerns the season premiere of The Walking Dead, “What did you expect?” The Walking Dead essentially delivered what it had been promising for months: A violent, disturbing, grim, and devastating episode that saw not one, but two characters bashed to death with a baseball bat. Was it gruesome? Absolutely. Did it go too far? That depends, I think, on what viewers were expecting from the season premiere.
Fanatics of The Walking Dead, I suspect, were not all that shocked by the events of the episode. Sad? Sure. Grief-stricken? Probably. But shocked by the level of violence? This is a television show in which a kid shot his mother to death after she gave birth to his little sister. This is a show in which Carol shot a teenage girl in the back of the head because she’d lost her marbles. This is a show in which Noah had his flesh ripped from his face by zombies while Glenn looked on less than a foot away, horrified. This is a show in which cannibals cut off Bob’s leg and ate it, in which Rick killed a man by ripping his neck open with his teeth, and in which walkers tore Nicholas apart while he was on top of Glenn. I haven’t even mentioned the hundreds of brutal, bloody zombie deaths.